Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t reviewSee all photos
Look and feel
For a netbook the .79-inch S10-3t is actually rather trim, and it's noticeably narrower than other 10-inch systems. While it's obviously thicker than standalone tablets or e-readers like the Kindle DX, when equipped with its four-cell battery the 2.7-pound tablet was light enough to hold up in bed while reading. However, that eight-cell bulging battery version that we saw at CES looks like it would be incredibly uncomfortable to hold in arm.
As a result of the S10-3t's narrower dimensions, its palmrest is thinner, which in turn means very limited touchpad real estate. The rectangular pad with its integrated mouse buttons is about the size of a USB stick, and provides an incredibly cramped navigation experience. While it doesn't make up for all the backtracking our fingers had to do, we do like the feel of the raised dots on the pad itself. Are we totally crazy for thinking Lenovo should have grabbed a ThinkPad pointing stick and stuck it in the middle of the keyboard?
Screen and tablet performance
Multitouch gestures were responsive; we got in the hang of sticking two fingers on the screen to scroll down the length of web pages or pinching to make text larger. As soon as you swing the display around using the S10-3t's fairly sturdy, bidirectional hinge, Lenovo's Natural Touch interface launches. The full screen finger-friendly carousel interface provides large shortcuts to Lenovo's own photo, music and e-book software. We're not sure why you'd choose this multimedia software over Microsoft's Media Player and Photo Gallery, but the e-book software does open PDF or e-pub files and adds note taking and bookmark functions. Though it's a nice piece of software, we preferred Amazon's Kindle for PC app to access our collection of already-purchased titles.
While the touch reading experience was smooth and we enjoyed flicking through pages and pinching to zoom in on text, it was our experience reading the New York Times Reader while laying down that brought out the biggest issue with the screen – its viewing angles. Though the extra glossy screen contributes somewhat to the issues, we encountered major color distortion both horizontally and vertically, and at some angles we couldn't even see what was on the screen. It was especially apparent when we tried to look at an Olympic photo gallery while lying in bed – we had to adjust ourselves and the tablet quite a bit to comfortably flick through the images. Why Lenovo had to use a cheap LCD on this device is beyond us – it craps up a perfectly enjoyable experience.
The device has an accelerometer, but we found it to be a bit flaky; we ended up using the button on the side of the screen more often than not to change the screen orientation, and even when we used this solution we got impatient with the typical five second adjustment period. Lastly, we should mention that Lenovo doesn't include a stylus, so if you want to take advantage of Windows 7's handwriting functionality you're going to need to come up with one of your own or, you know, find a piece of meat.
Performance and battery life
|Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t||1348||160||3:12|
|HP Mini 210||1393||147||5:15|
|ASUS Eee PC 1005PE||1431||157||8:10|
|Toshiba Mini NB305||1272||156||6:30|
On our video rundown test the S10-3t's four-cell battery lasted three hours and 12 minutes, but when we actually used the system to write this review and surf the Web we got close to four and a half hours of battery life. In our minds that's not all that bad considering the battery fits flush with the system, but you can always go up to the chunky eight-cell for a couple more bucks.